A Wonderful Life: iconic images by photography greats

Master prints by Annie Leibovitz, Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and many more from gallerist Peter Fetterman’s collection go to auction at Bonhams New York in a seismic pre-Christmas sale

Girls in Windows, New York City by Ormond Gigli, $30,000-$50,000
Girls in Windows, New York City by Ormond Gigli, $30,000-$50,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams

Christmas is coming and who doesn’t want a beautiful photograph by an iconic photographer in their stocking? Los Angeles-based gallerist Peter Fetterman has teamed up with Bonhams for a major photography auction in New York tomorrow, December 17, which can also be joined online. In keeping with the time of year and the iconic James Stewart Christmas film of almost the same name, the sale is called A Wonderful Life and focuses on images of joy and good cheer.

Charles James Dresses, New York by Cecil Beaton, $3,000-$5,000
Charles James Dresses, New York by Cecil Beaton, $3,000-$5,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams
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Mikhail Baryshnikov, Brussels, by Annie Leibovitz, $6,000-$8,000
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Brussels, by Annie Leibovitz, $6,000-$8,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams

Master prints from Fetterman’s own collection are on sale, starting at highly accessible estimates from $1,000 up to $60,000. Bonhams is equally enthusiastic about the accessibility of the sale, which should appeal to an audience around the world not necessarily au fait with auction houses. The images on show are of characters that captivate. There are photos of a young hipster Audrey Hepburn on a bike; Paul McCartney in his early Hamburg quiff years; and, for The Crown fans, a retro Queen Elizabeth II sitting down with a jigsaw puzzle. Music nerds will be drawn to mid-performance photographs of Elvis and Freddie Mercury, while those with a taste for fashion editorial can bid for some of the most recognisable images by photographers like Norman Parkinson and Arthur Elgort.

Eyes of Allah, Islam, by Chester Higgins Jr, $10,000-$12,000
Eyes of Allah, Islam, by Chester Higgins Jr, $10,000-$12,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams
Young Velvets, Young Prices, Hat Fashions by Norman Parkinson for British Vogue, $3,000-$5,000
Young Velvets, Young Prices, Hat Fashions by Norman Parkinson for British Vogue, $3,000-$5,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams
Florence, Paris by Edouard Boubat, $3,000-$4,000
Florence, Paris by Edouard Boubat, $3,000-$4,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams

Other artists featured include Swiss-French humanist photographer Sabine Weiss and Berenice Abbott, who is best known for her shots of 1930s New York, and there are also early images by Jerry Schatzberg before he turned to directing films such as The Panic in Needle Park with Al Pacino. The quality of the work and trustworthy nature of the gallery and auction house should also be a big pull. For those fed up with buying the usual socks and technological gizmos, this auction provides a fresh and more meaningful way to celebrate the end of the year.

Paul McCartney, Hamburg Fun Fair by Astrid Kirchherr, $3,000-$5,000
Paul McCartney, Hamburg Fun Fair by Astrid Kirchherr, $3,000-$5,000 | Image: Courtesy Peter Fetterman Gallery & Bonhams
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